“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” - Anthony J D'Angelo
Learning is a lifelong process. It doesn’t end with the culmination of school or college days. However, to acquire a passion for learning, or a thirst for knowledge, you need to cultivate an interest in learning in your child from the very beginning. If he takes an interest in learning new things and wants to know more about how things work and where they come from, he is already on the path to success.
However, there are no definite ways or methods to inculcate this habit in your child. As a parent, you need to recognise her skills and talents and encourage her curiosity about the world and the environment around her.
We give you some interesting facts about learning that will make you look at the process in a new way and help you decide on how to encourage your child.
Gardening motivates children to learn more
Engaging with nature not only helps your child feel more responsible towards the environment but also helps him develop his motor, sensory .and literacy skills. For instance, the process of weeding or using a trowel to dig will help him enhance his motor skills as well as improve his pincer grasp. When he explores a garden, he uses most of his senses – the sense of sight, smell, hearing and touch. This activity builds his sensory skills. When you name the fruits, vegetables and flowers while gardening, it helps build his literacy skills as well.
Building blocks help build crucial skills
Building blocks helps build motor, spatial, social and language skills in your child. It also encourages her to think creatively. The best news, however, is that toy blocks help build mathematical skills in children, the outcomes of which can be seen at a later stage. According to a study, ‘Advanced Constructional Play with LEGOs Among Preschoolers as a Predictor of Later School Achievement in Mathematics’ by Charles Wolfgang, Laura Stannard & Ithel Jones published in 2010, in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, it was found that ‘there is a statistical relationship between early LEGO performance among preschool and achievement in mathematics, not seen during the elementary school years, but later developing at the middle and high school level’.
Music helps improve language skills
Anthony Brandt , a professor of music composition and theory, and co-author of the paper titled Frontiers in Cognitive Auditory Neuroscience, said in an interview to medicalnewstoday (published in 2012) that "Language is typically viewed as fundamental to human intelligence, and music is often treated as being dependent on or derived from language. But from a developmental perspective, we argue that music comes first, and language arises from music."
According to Brandt, infants don’t understand the meaning of words, rather relate to the sounds of the words. In fact, babies can distinguish between rhythm, phonemics and consistencies. The authors of this study believe that music cognition plays an important role in early language acquisition and music training will help a child improve his language skills later in life.
Enrolling children in school too early is counterproductive to learning
Today, many parents are keen for their children to get an early start at school, as they believe this would put them at an advantage going forward. However, this may not be true and may actually backfire. Researchers believe that direct instruction from a very early age inhibits a child’s inherent tendency to explore and learn how things work. It’s important to give your child a free reign to learn, and, at times, to solve a problem, on his own.
Playing chess makes children smarter
A game of chess involves your child to pay attention, plan her moves, analyse her opponents’ moves and thoughts, and recognise complex patterns. This exercise helps her develop the skill of inductive and deductive reasoning, and helps her apply these skills in her studies as well.
Multi-tasking may not be a good thing
Studies have found that multi-tasking may increase your child’s error rate by half and he may take longer to finish the tasks compared to when he focusses on one task at a time. Apparently, the brain takes longer to complete a task when it is asked to multi-task.
Involvement leads to better behaviour
Involving yourself in your child’s daily tasks is important but engaging in her education at school and at home is even more necessary. When you are involved with her education on a daily basis, it’s easier for her to clear doubts as and when they arise. Take an active interest in her homework and extra-curricular activities and look out for behavioural or social problems she might be going through. This will help keep negative emotions and situations at bay and she will perform better in school and be in a happier place emotionally.
Daydreaming helps in brain development
If you are annoyed at how your child zones out during class or an important discussion, worry not, as daydreaming might be helping him more than harming him. In 2012, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science found that individuals with a wandering mind have a better working memory. It has been found that daydreaming also promotes creativity, improves social skills and even benefits language skills. So, the next time, your child wanders into his own world, don’t reprimand him. It might just be helping him be a better student.
Children who eat fresh food may have better IQ
There are plenty of reasons why you should give your child healthy and fresh foods. And, an improved IQ is one of them. A study done by Dr Lisa Smithers et al published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (January 2012) found that children who were given junk food when they were toddlers reported a lesser IQ than those who were given a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and milk. These differences were observed when the children reached the age of eight. So, you have one more reason why you should give your child healthy and fresh food.
Learning through play improves a child’s ability to focus for a longer duration
The saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ actually has scientific backing. Research has shown that children pay more attention to studies if they are allowed unstructured breaks or free play during their study sessions. According to a study titled, ‘The role of recess in children's cognitive performance’ by Anthony D Pellegrini and David F Bjorklund published in June 2010, in Educational Psychologist, rest periods are important to help a child focus more on his studies. The report says, ‘Young children are not able to focus their attention for extended periods of time as well as older children. By giving them frequent breaks during and between highly focused cognitive and academic tasks, their performance on later tasks should be enhanced relative to children who are not given such breaks. Also, performance on repeated tasks requiring focused attention decreases over time and trials, until rest periods are given’.
Now that you know some of the interesting facts about learning, adapt these practices in your day-to-day lives to make your child take an active interest in learning and help him grow up to be a successful individual.
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